Google has just updated Google Maps for Android, now at version 4.4, which refines the mapping app’s Places feature to offer users local search and reviews of nearby businesses, shops, and destinations. Google Maps 4.4 with Places gives users the ability to search for places using custom categories or pre-defined categories, such as “Coffee,” “Restaurants,” or “Hotels.” If you’re new to an area, it will help you locate local businesses and Places will also integrate user reviews, aggregated from services such as Zagat, CitySearch, and others. After you’re done perusing the ratings, if you want to head over to your newly-found steakhouse for dinner, you can see it in Google Maps or hit navigate and the service will give users of Android 1.6 and later smartphones turn-by-turn driving directions for free.

Places is now separated into its own app in Google Maps 4.4 to offer a better experience. After you download Google Maps, you can head into your App Drawer and locate the “Places” app to begin your local search. You can head over to Android Market and download Google Maps. Places is also coming soon for BlackBerry users.

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